Blood pressure should be checked periodically because it can be abnormal without causing any symptoms. Failing to find and adequately treat high blood pressure (hypertension) increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Many things affect blood pressure, including neural, glandular, kidney and cardiovascular factors. High blood pressure can be caused by hardening of the arteries or kidney disease.

If the exact cause of high blood pressure cannot be determined, it is called “essential” hypertension. Often there are several factors contributing to the high blood pressure, making it impossible to find a single cause.

If there is no pathology, often high blood pressure can be improved without the use of drugs. The natural approach does not have the side-effects of the drugs. Even if the natural methods do not completely control the blood pressure, they can help reduce the amount of drugs necessary to do the job.

The Nervous System and Blood Pressure:

The autonomic nervous system is the part of the nervous system that automatically controls certain bodily functions like digestion, heart rate, blood vessel diameter and other functions that happen free of central nervous control. These are bodily functions that you don’t have to think about, they happen “autonomously”. You don’t tell your stomach to start producing acid after you eat; it is handled automatically by the autonomic nervous system.

The two divisions of the autonomic nervous system are the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. These two divisions are opposites. They are analogous to the accelerator (sympathetic) and brakes (parasympathetic) on a car.

Branches of the nerves that make up the autonomic nervous system come from the spine. They are affected by spinal subluxations (vertebrae that are out of place) and fixations (vertebrae that do not move properly). Muscle tightness, spinal subluxations and fixations interfere with proper nervous system control. They are very effectively treated by many hands-on therapies. Treating the musculoskeletal system, actually affects the nervous system. Emotion also affects neurological control of the blood pressure. Stress has an effect on the autonomic nervous system. Read the report on the adrenal gland for more information about how stress affects the body.

Nutrition and Blood Pressure:

There are several nutritional factors that can affect blood pressure. The most common nutritional approach is sodium restriction, which isn’t always a good strategy.  Magnesium supplementation has been shown to help reduce high blood pressure in some cases.

Obesity is another important link to high blood pressure. If one weighs more than 15% more than his or her ideal weight, weight loss has been shown to help reduce high blood pressure.

One nutritional issue not commonly discussed with respect to high blood pressure is sugar. Eating refined sugar (and other refined carbohydrates) can lead to “Syndrome X”. Syndrome X is a condition described by Dr. Gerald Reaven. In short, stress and insulin resistance (caused by eating too much sugar and too many refined carbohydrates) can raise cholesterol and blood pressure. The cholesterol increase has a definite pattern. Triglycides and LDL (bad cholesterol) are too high and HDL (good cholesterol) is too low.  Sugar consumption can also adversely affect the adrenal glands and can contribute to high blood pressure.

Arteriosclerosis (loss of elasticity or “hardening” of the arteries) and athlerosclerosis (accumulation of plaque on the internal arterial wall) can cause high blood pressure. High cholesterol, a lack of antioxidant nutrients, consumption of trans fats and refined carbohydrates, smoking, alcohol consumption and stress can all contribute to this condition.

Proper treatment should include dietary and lifestyle changes (whether or not medication is being used to control the blood pressure. Your chiropractor trained in applied kinesiology is equipped to help you develop an effective nutritional program to address all of the issues associated with high blood pressure. Call for a consultation to explore this issue.

Low Blood Pressure

Unless the blood pressure is so low that the kidneys can’t operate, as it is in shock, low blood pressure is not as dangerous as high blood pressure. The main problem for people with low blood pressure is fatigue.

In general, people with low blood pressure do not feel very good. Sometimes they have symptoms other than fatigue, like headaches, pain or allergies.

Sometimes people with low blood pressure are thiamin (a B vitamin) deficient. Often these people do not sleep well—waking up in the middle of the night, unable to fall back to sleep. Often when people who do not have a lot of energy, do not sleep well and have low blood pressure take thiamin, they feel and sleep much better.

Herbs, like licorice, can help to raise blood pressure. In fact, if you have high blood pressure, licorice (we are talking about the herb, not the candy) should be avoided.